Kota Kinabalu, Borneo; May 2017

KK is just a town – a hub to get things done. There is nothing particularly remarkable about it. Well, that’s not true – the night market is excellent. It is, however, a great place to stage other activities from. The mountain bearing a similar name brought me to the town.

I’d built in a bit of fat into the schedule to absorb travel delays, which failed to come to pass, and so I found myself with a few days to spend in KK.

I made my way to the harbour in the morning which was swollen with Chinese holiday makers. I picked an island, Gaya, which appeared to be large and still forested. I was pleased with my decision when everyone else got off at the island before (resplendent as it was with giant inflatable bananas and other, well, shite) leaving me to a bit of peace.

The island (s) is (are) part of a national park and there was a toll to pay and I attempted to extract information from him about trails, but he was stolidly determined to be pathologically unhelpful and who was I to interrupt this vocation?

I wandered along a trail into the forest with the now familiar sounds of insects thrumming in the heat of the day. There was a lot more fallen vegetation to dodge and route finding to be made through the woodland as it’s clearly not visited that much. It’s also primary forest and will quickly remove any trace of, well, anything.

When I got to a choice of route I picked the one which sounded most interesting until one led me up hard to follow route up to the high point of the island which afforded me no view, but was a lot of fun to get into the heart of the island. If you’re a fan of: Lord of the Flies, The Beach, Lost etc. you can have your fun here!

I found my way, entirely by accident, back on a completely different route where macaques (little bastards) and I watched each other carefully to make sure we got to where we were going. I had an hour before the boat was picking me up so I luxuriated on a beach with my book.

I found a museum in the afternoon which was actually pretty good for an hour or so and is worth a visit. It’s in a strange position as far as a visitor is concerned. I walked out to it, but I imagine most would get a taxi/Uber/Grab to it.

The next day I went to the Wetlands Centre which is criminally overlooked since, again, I was the only person there. I was provided with a useful fauna spotting guide and spent a pleasant few hours in the mangroves and in bird hides watching various members of the animal kingdom going about their business or trying to were it not for the ape gazing at them. I particularly enjoyed watching a kingfisher hunt masterfully for its breakfast.

I spent the afternoon user testing a tropical storm and resigned myself to getting a few bits of the mountain and attempting to relax for the evening which various agents seemed determined to stop.


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